The Morgan County police officer involved in a Davis County shooting Nov. 25 has been identified. While the Davis County Attorney’s Office says Morgan Sherriff’s Sgt. Daniel Scott Peay’s use of force was “not justified” by Utah law, Davis County Attorney Troy S. Rawlings declined to prosecute Peay.
In a two-page memo to Morgan County Sheriff Blaine Breshears, Rawlings said Peay’s use of deadly force “does not squarely fit with the letter, scope and intent” of Utah law. However, Rawlings said a jury would likely not find Peay guilty of a crime.
“We believe a unanimous jury would not convict Sergeant Peay of a crime when presented with all of the evidence,” Rawlings said in the memo.
On Nov. 25, Peay noticed Kristine Nicole Biggs, 41, driving a GMC pickup at night on Interstate 84 without lights on. A high-speed chase that spanned three counties ensued at speeds up to 90 miles per hour. First Biggs was travelling eastbound on I-84, then westbound. Spike strips and flattened tires didn’t end the chase, which wound up in South Weber, where several other police agencies joined in. Biggs, of Whitewater, Colo., tried ramming two Morgan County Sheriff vehicles in an attempt to flee after being boxed in.
Peay ended the pursuit by firing a single shot from his firearm. The bullet entered Bigg’s windshield and struck her left eye. She was treated at a local hospital until being booked into the Davis County Jail on Dec. 1.
Since the shooting took place in Davis County, The Davis County Sheriff’s Office and Attorney’s Office was assigned to investigate the shooting. Morgan County cleared Peay in its own internal investigation
“It is clear that Sergeant Peay’s subjective hypothetical concerns, fears and analysis of the situation, due to the fact that an aggressive Biggs posed an ongoing risk to some degree, drove his decision to end the situation with the use of deadly force,” according to Rawling’s memo. “In his mind, he was protecting life from an aggressor in a vehicle who was not going to stop.”
Peay’s presence at the scene in South Weber was “lawful, proper, and in effort to ensure public safety,” according to the memo. “The underlying pursuit was based on the criminal conduct of suspect Kristine Biggs. Biggs put people and property at risk by fleeing while in an intoxicated state. Defendant Biggs has admitted guilt.”
Rawlings said he reviewed evidence including statements of all officers involved at the scene, videos, and Peay’s “compelling” interview. Rawlings called his Protocol Investigation Team’s investigation into the shooting “thorough and professional.”
Breshears said one of those videos shows another Morgan County officer in front of his vehicle right before Biggs rammed it. He said Peay felt the life of that officer was being threatened, and acted accordingly.
Depsite Rawlings’ findings, Breshears said he adamantly feels Peay’s actions were within both state code and Morgan County policy.
“He reasonably believed the life of another was in danger,” Breshears said.
Utah Code 76-2-404 says a peace officer is justified in using deadly force when “the officer reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person.”